U.S. Department of the Interior assistant secretary for insular affairs Tony Babauta last Friday received a formal briefing and presentation on the current situation of the Commonwealth Health Center and its immediate goals to turn around the financially challenged public hospital.
Babauta and his team were welcomed at the facility by Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta, COO Esther Muna, and board chair Joaquin Torres, who all took part in a closed-door session with visiting federal officials.
Prior to the executive meeting, OIA officials were presented immediate data and records about the corporation's operation as shown written on the CEO's white boards.
CHCC's Babauta shared how the challenges began for the organization-from merely receiving only $5 million in seed capital for all hospital expenses to various ways explored by the corporation to generate money for its operations.
OIA's Babauta, initially inquired about the hospital collection which was shown in detail by CHCC officials. This and other hospital issues and concerns were discussed in full details during the closed door meeting that followed later.
Prior to Friday's meeting, CHCC's Babauta told Saipan Tribune that the visiting team will also receive a formal presentation about the $5-million grant proposal for CHC's air-con system.
For many years, patients and employees at the public hospital have been affected by the dilapidated condition of its air-conditioning system which the corporation has promised to resolve despite financial challenges.
The CEO told Saipan Tribune that the organization is looking forward to a positive response from a grant proposal it submitted last month that will rectify the long-time problem. Babauta said he will follow-up this proposal to OIA's Babauta.
The CHCC is seeking a $5.053 million assistance from OIA to replace the hospital's current air-con system which requires the procurement of a new chill water air conditioning system, which if installed, will be energy efficient and more economical to operate.
Based on the grant proposal turned in last September, the corporation indicated that the desired system will be able to adequately supply cooling comfort during peak heat load times. It will also operate to as low as 20 percent load during evening hours. The new system is projected to reduce by 25 percent the kilowatt-hour consumption at the CHC compared to a scroll or screw compressor system in research on different types of compressors.
CEO Babauta said since the establishment of the 78-bed Commonwealth Health Center in 1986, the air conditioners that were installed have not been replaced. Although maintenance of these ACs has been conducted, several factors require replacement of these “worn, outdated” air conditioners with more environment friendly and cost-efficient system.
“We intend to replace the 20-year-old air conditioning system [at the hospital] that is at times malfunctioning and has completely gone out-a risk to our patients and the hospital in general,” Babauta told Saipan Tribune.